The Withdrawal Agreement provides for citizens rights upon the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. The following are some FAQ’s based on policy set by SEF (Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras).
Conditions for Residence covered by the Withdrawal Agreement
1. I am a British citizen, living and working in Portugal. To maintain my rights in Portugal, do I have to continue working?
The Withdrawal Agreement protects UK nationals who reside in a state other than that of their nationality, provided that the conditions that EU legislation on free movement associates with the right of residence are respected. Essentially, UK nationals fulfill these conditions if:
• you are engaged in paid or self-employed activities; or
• you have sufficient resources; or
• you are a member of another person’s family who fulfill these conditions;
It is possible to move between these categories (for example, leaving your job to start studying). To maintain your rights, you just need to fulfill at least the conditions of one of the categories mentioned above.
2. I am a British citizen living in London, travelling regularly to Lisbon as part of my work. Will I be able to continue working in Portugal after the transition period ends?
Yes. The Withdrawal Agreement also protects “cross-border” workers. A “cross-border” worker is someone who works for someone else or is self-employed in one country and resides in another country. You can continue to work in Lisbon and live in London.
You can ask the Portuguese authorities to issue a new document stating that you are a cross-border worker protected by the Withdrawal Agreement. This document will facilitate your travels to Portugal, the continuation of work in this country and the return to the UK.
3. I am a British citizen and have been working in Portugal since 1995. I intend to retire in two years and would like to know if I can stay in Portugal after retiring.
Yes. Since you have worked in Portugal for at least five years, you should have already obtained a permanent right of residence that is not subject to any conditions.
4. I am British and my wife is Brazilian. We live with my family in Portugal. I am aware of my right to stay in Portugal. What will happen to my family’s right to return to the UK?
The Withdrawal Agreement protects the rights of persons who have exercised the right to free movement and reside in a country other than that of their nationality. The relevant UK law will determine whether your family members can reside with you in that country.
Rules applicable to absences covered by the Withdrawal Agreement
5. I am a British citizen and I came to Portugal two years ago to study. Last year, I was studying in Italy, under the Erasmus Programme and then I returned to my university in Lisbon. Does this exchange have any negative effects on my residence in Portugal?
It will have no effect on your rights in Portugal. EU legislation on free movement currently in force provides that periods of absence of less than six months per year do not affect continuity of residence (In the case of study, periods of absence of less than 12 consecutive months) These guarantees are also provided for in the Withdrawal Agreement.
6. I have British nationality and my father, who is also British, works in Portugal. I live with him and study at a Portuguese school. Can I stay in Portugal?
Yes. You can stay with your father. The procedure adopted by Portugal under the Withdrawal Agreement ensures that all family members, regardless of their nationality, who at the end of the transition period are legally residing with a UK national in Portugal can remain under the same conditions that existed before the end of the transition period.
7. I live in Portugal with my UK national spouse and hold a residence card as a family member of an EU citizen. Can I stay after the transition period ends?
Yes. The Withdrawal Agreement protects all family members who legally reside in Portugal with a UK citizen before the transition period ends.
8. I am a British citizen and came to Portugal to live with my husband, a UK national. Our marriage has recently entered a crisis. I want to ask for a divorce, but I fear the possible effects in terms of the right of residence after the transition period has ended.
The Withdrawal Agreement takes over the provisions of EU free movement legislation, which, under certain conditions, already protects spouses who divorce an EU citizen. If you have lived in Portugal while you are married and before you divorce, you can continue to live in Portugal after the transition period ends. When the divorce becomes final, there are conditions that EU free movement legislation associates with the right of residence, as if you were an EU citizen. After five consecutive years of legal residence, you can apply for Permanent Residence status in Portugal.
9. I am the unmarried partner of a UK national residing in Portugal. I intend to join him, but I will only be able to do so four years from now due to work commitments in my home country, Canada. Will I be able to join him even after the transition period ends?
Yes. The Withdrawal Agreement protects partners who, at the end of the transition period, maintain a long-term relationship with a UK national, even if they are not living with the Host State, in this case in Portugal. You can join your partner in Portugal, provided that, when you move in, they still have a long-term relationship and they maintain their residence in Portugal.
10. I am South African and work in Portugal where I live with my son, a British citizen, 6 years old, and my South African daughter, 2 years of age. Can we stay after the transition period is over?
Everyone can stay, as long as they meet the legal residency requirements. The Withdrawal Agreement guarantees that, after the transition period ends, not only UK nationals can remain in Portugal, but also other family members who are not EU citizens whose presence is necessary not to deprive your children of their Right of Residence granted by the Withdrawal Agreement.
Right of Residence
11. I am a British citizen and for the past nine years I have lived with my parents in Portugal where they both work. Will I have a right of residence in Portugal after the transition period ends?
Yes. Since you have lived in Portugal for at least five years, you have already obtained the permanent Right of Residence that is not subject to any conditions (such as having to remain a member of the family). This right is preserved by the Withdrawal Agreement.
12. I am a UK national residing in Portugal and protected by the Withdrawal Agreement. Will I be able to benefit from more free movement rights in the EU after the transition period has ended?
UK nationals protected by the Withdrawal Agreement in one Member State may not rely on it to obtain the right to move freely to another Member State, nor to establish or provide cross-border services or services to persons established in other Member States. This does not affect any rights that UK nationals may enjoy under other instruments of EU law or national law.
13. As a British citizen residing in Portugal, can I be subject to a visa requirement in the future?
No, as long as you have a valid document issued by Portugal that proves your Residence Status under the Withdrawal Agreement.
14. I have the right of permanent residence in Portugal, but I never asked for the Residence Certificate that attests to that right. Should I order it before the transition period ends?
The right of permanent residence for UK nationals residing in Portugal under the Withdrawal Agreement is not dependent on the residence document (although, in Portugal, registration is mandatory). However, it is advisable that, before the transition period ends, register your residence with the City Council of your area of residence (for residences under five years) or with SEF – Immigration and Borders Service (for residences more than five years).
Dennis Swing Greene
info at madeira-weekly.com